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Excerpt Obama Middle East

Excerpt Obama Middle East

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Published by Alex Kingsbury

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Published by: Alex Kingsbury on Jun 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/04/2012

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Introduction The End of 
America’s
Moment? The Middle East today is undergoing a revolutionary transformation along lines similar tothose of the popular-nationalist revolutions of the 1950s that swept the Arab world, from Egyptto Iraq. The important difference between then and now is that the new social uprisings arebottom-up, as opposed to top-down, driven by politics, economics, and the desire for dignity:millions of ordinary Arabs are seeking freedom and a better quality of life. The
mukhabarat,
orstate controlled by the secret police, is no longer omnipotent. The psychological fear factorseparating public opinion from the ruling elites has been eroded. People across the Arab worldfeel empowered and even emboldened, whereas autocratic rulers are trembling in fear. Theyface an uncertain future. The Arab authoritarianism that stabilized and protected US interestsfor a half century is beginning to seem not so stable. Neither are American power and influenceas stable and durable as they used to be. A powerful current of revolutionary social change is
eroding the very foundations of America’s friends and foes alike. Although the character of the
new Middle East remains unknown, one thing is clear. It will never be the same again. * * *As can be seen, Obama inherited a long, bitter, and baleful legacy in the Middle East, alegacy that encompasses the Bush era and goes back to the Cold War, whose patterns areclearly evident today. He also inherited a weak economy, one that fetters his hand and imposes
severe limits on his stated wish to refashion America’s engagement with the Middle East. In
order to overcome the bitter legacy between America and Middle Eastern peoples andsocieties, Obama must show leadership and challenge the political culture of conformity and

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